County keeping employee service recognition simple

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By Brian Slattery

BOLIVIA—Brunswick County commissioners decided a firm handshake, a certificate of recognition and a longevity bonus are the best ways to thank county employees for their years of service.

Debbie Barnes brought a proposal to cut the cost of the employee service recognition program by doing away with the expensive pins the county has given employees when they hit milestone years.

“We had a policy that required pins with diamonds, sapphires, solid gold. We changed that policy to add more flexibility for recognition,” she said.

Barnes said the policy changed in 2011 to cut recognition of three years with the county and offer a certificate of recognition for five years. The county had an inventory of pins for employees who worked for 10, 15, 20, 25 years or longer.

With the inventory emptied, the county looked for new ways to recognize its long-term employees.

“We’ve met our recognitions by including (service years) in the newsletter and we have department heads acknowledge those employees,” Barnes said.

But Barnes also met with employees to find out what type of service awards they would appreciate most.

“We talked about pins and were told they have them in a drawer and don’t do much with them. We could (still) do pins or certificates possibly framed. We could also consider an honor kit, with a framed certificate and a token,” Barnes said.

Barnes said another option that received the most employee response was a catalog of items with the value commensurate with an employee’s years of service.

A certificate for five years of service, then the catalog options for longer service was estimated to cost $20,000 each calendar year.

“People can find something they can use. A department head tonight was cutting up, asking ‘When do I get my salad bowls?’” Barnes said.

Barnes said they also discussed a monetary award, but any amount offered would be taxable income.

Commissioner Frank Williams said he was in favor of providing some type of recognition.

“We want to make sure it’s meaningful. I get the sense the catalog is something they would appreciate,” Williams said.

But commissioner Pat Sykes disagreed.

“We should do away with it. I worked in government for 32 years. A certificate was all I got. The most important thing they get is longevity pay,” Sykes said.

“With the catalog, that could end up in a drawer or a yard sale. If it’s not money, it’s not beneficial. I recommend we give them a certificate and continue the longevity pay.”

Barnes asked if the certificate should be framed, which would cost around $2,800 each year.

Sykes made a motion to do away with any purchased items and provide an unframed certificate.

The board unanimously approved with a 5-0 vote.


Brian Slattery is a staff writer for The Brunswick Beacon. Reach him at 754-6890 or bslattery@brunswickbeacon.com.